Been to panto yesterday. The MADC one actually because now you have to specify which one it is. I was never really a panto kind of person but having been roped into acting in one some years back (don’t ask) I tend to follow the developments with a mild enthusiasm. The Christmas Pantomime is part of the anglo-saxon staple diet of Things to Do At Christmas Time. The package includes spoof of the elders, fun and entertainment for the kids and a good excuse for men to wear tights, don makeup and wear lipstick. That just about sums it up. It’s a bit of festive fun that is mostly harmless.
There is nothing wrong however in expecting a panto to have a script that, while allowing for the normal suspension of belief that is required for any kind of theatrical performance, is consistent and has some form of story line that is thread through. There as something missing in this year’s MADC Panto. Granted it lacked whatever “gravitas” the Manoel could give it but still… too many characters seemed to have been banged in at the last moment. Too many self-referential lines, and way too many paranoid jibes at the newly discovered competition.
It’s ok to poke fun at Masquerade or whatever other company is busy climbing beanstalks but if you nag ne time too many then the audience will get the same feeling as an uncomfortable onlooker who finds himself bang in the middle of a family feud. I promise I am doing my best not to gripe but, to put it in the words of the Dame, I asked myself: “Myself.. are there not too many jokes that have fallen flat? Myself… are they not milking the kinky-sex innuendos one time too many?” As Lorna would say, I myself think that the whole business lost the tempo one time too many.
The danger of writing a panto script that centres around a Magnificent Dame like Montanaro is that there is the huge risk that the Dame can steal the show leaving everyone in the shadows. In this case it even got worse, because for long periods there was no show to steal barring some good individual performances. One could not help wondering whether Montanaro would be better off having a one man Christmas stand up show thus avoiding all the bother of having to force some kind of storyline that mixes up red blood cells, Einsteins, Super Mario characters and Turks and Knights.
Just in case you were wondering we are being too negative, we did find that the songs were well performed and that when the tempo was just right we got the illusion of being at the Christmas panto and not at the obligatory performance of a miffed theatrical troupe that cannot get over not being at the Manoel. Otherwise it all risked going haywire and the worst part of it would be the kid’s worst nightmare… that some Evil concoction has stolen the best part of Christmas…
The chip on your shoulder…? It’s behind you!!!